Independence: It’s a Personal Process

By Victory Yinka-Banjo. Victory, 14, is a student at Princeton Schools, and lives in Lagos, Nigeria. Please read her article, and leave your thoughts and comments below. (*Shortlisted for the 2018 prize!)

Toxic wholesomeness. A straight oxymoron that describes the end result of every relationship that is based on complete co-dependency. A contradictory statement which summarizes just how crooked the path of a person whose fulfilment and company lies fully in the hands of another can be. There is nothing wrong with being reliant on somebody or other people, as long as it lasts for a season. However, more often than not, vast amounts of us find it a lot easier to attach ourselves for what we would like to be a permanent timeline. And, in the process of building such a co-dependent interaction with others, we are taught the opposite of assertiveness, of self-awareness; ignorant of the fact that being decisive should be a personal choice. Such traits of an independent person are, in a literal sense, nowhere to be found when over-reliance is the norm.

Do you know who you are? Let that sink in for a second. What exactly is your identity? How does it differentiate you from the rest of the world? Doug Cooper, the American author of the debut novel, ‘Outside In’, once said: Identity cannot be found or fabricated but emerges from within when one has the courage to let go. The key words there are “let go”. Let go of other people and of that attached nature you have so readily succumbed to. It is, however, inevitably a lot easier to do the exact opposite; to stay glued and affiliated. Notwithstanding, you can’t learn to live independently if you don’t know who you are, and to start that journey on the road to ‘self-discovery’, alone time must be sought.

It is when one is left alone that personal reflection can occur. This time is more important than we realize. Meditation is next to understanding; understanding what exactly our purpose is and why we do every single thing it is that we do. Identity. The major issue we face here – trying to grab a hold of independence and private contentment – is loneliness. It is so effortless to be overcome by the void we may feel when companionless. It is in fact normal. We have all had or consistently have similar emotions.

Sitting alone in the cafeteria at lunch time, eating and watching others in their cliques; laughing, talking, seeming happy with their company. You glance over and feel empty, nullified, deserted; an isolation of sorts. However, the glaring truth is that an individual is never really alone because that person has himself. That person has herself. Taking personal time out, unaccompanied, is a great way to discover and love yourself. This love permeates not because of external words that people throw your way, but because familiarity with yourself breeds comfort and that comfort breeds love. Self-love.

What’s more is that change is a constant; life’s constant. Things will only remain invariable for a certain amount of time. That grocery store you always go to may eventually be shut down. That teacher or lecturer you trust the most will not be at your institution until the end of time. Those friends you felt would always have your back and that you are inseparable from, might just relocate to a country a thousand miles away. Your current status will change. Your connections will be altered. Even our families will come and go.

And when outgrowth and progression in the lives of the others that surround you begins, and they start to drift away, you just cannot let yourself remain stagnant at the same point at which they left you. You should have seen it coming; anticipated that for a period, you might be alone. For a period, you might be thoroughly individualistic. It is at this season that you can and must come out stronger than ever. If other people not being around is a source of depression for a dispirited or lonely person, it is the best time to start adapting to going solo.

The certainty in such a situation is that the individual in question is in bad company. The high probability shifts towards the feasible legitimacy of the fact that this person is unable to think autonomously. Extreme co-dependency becomes such a norm that beliefs, decisions, opinions and the like are no longer intimate for a person but are thoroughly based on what the next person says in concurrence or dissent. The man or woman in the mirror is no longer enough to prove just how beautiful you are, but your boyfriend’s words are. Your mother’s words are.

This sort of psychological reliance can get unhealthy. It can get toxic. Often, our opinions are so chronic that we don’t even stop to see if they echo our true perceptions, if we even know what those perceptions are. Time after time, these viewpoints are yet again drawn to conclusions based on clichés and the people around us. Simply because we don’t spend quality time with ourselves to contemplate, but rather let that thinking be done for us by others. You are the one who decides your role in life and your identity. Don’t let society do that for you.

Initiate a newly found person who is self-content. Accept the world. Be your own motivator. Be assertive. Make your own decisions. Keep a journal if you please. Think independently and freely, but don’t overthink. Know yourself first and foremost. Be the leader of your own path and not a follower of others. Admire the person you are becoming. Bask in your uniqueness and individuality. Start-up on a road of self-rule until social interactions become less of a need and more of an option.

Nonetheless, do not mistake all I have said to mean that you should remain friendless.  By all means, do not. A good friend is like a four-leaf clover; hard to find and lucky to have. They are truly priceless. Above even friends, your family is life’s greatest blessing. You don’t choose them. They are God’s gift to you as you are to them. They are love. They will be there. All the same, it is so important that you know that during tougher times, you may have to stand alone and that you will have to stand strong. Don’t feel lonely but enjoy that time you have to meditate, because it is beyond valuable. Just like your friends and family, you are beyond valuable.

Your identity should be so secure that when someone walks away from you, they don’t take you with them. Don’t feel lonely. Grow and be your main companion. Be independent. It’s a personal thing.

101 comments on “Independence: It’s a Personal Process

  1. Tobi Bello on

    Nice one!
    It got me thinking about how many of my loved ones are toxic codependent and if they know that it’s a problem; if they even care…

  2. advocate on

    Your father must be proud of you, Victory. This is impressive. I like the type of young woman you’re turning into. Your article reassures me of my personal characteristics – which you so well articulated. Sometimes, people develop these views/attributes at a much later stage in life. It’s however outstanding that you have had the views even before becoming a real teenager. I’ve no doubt that this will save you from the “group-think and friends’ opinions” , what they call peer-pressure, that often destroy many teenagers and young adults. Having been around for a much longer time, I have seen instances where people have made an ill-reasoned sacrifice just so they could “belong” and fit in well to the group. Yoruba people call it “parapo”. Ask your father.

    I also liked the way you balanced your view by reiterating that you’re not advocating that people become friendless but that they obey the time tested counsel – from one of the wisest ones that ever lived on this planet – which states that “Man, know thyself”. Your article emphasizes this counsel and admonishes young people like yourself, and even older people, to know themselves. This is as powerful as it is important.

    Although it might seem like only an article, it contains an important message for young people. It’s even more inspiring that it is coming from another young person. Would have loved to emphasize other parts of the article, but let me leave other readers to pick the parts that speak to them the most.

    Overall, nice work. This is a great awaiting.

  3. Ola on

    This is very inspiring. Thanks Victory for giving back to humanity. I see this write up going beyond this generation. Keep up the good work.

  4. Veda on

    Brilliantly written, it speaks the truth about many people in our society that are too afraid to admit it, that there are many toxic people they still hang on too.
    Loved every word written. Very brilliant and mature use of words.
    Keep it Up Dear.

  5. Oluwole Olojede on

    Very wonderful article. I certainly agree with you that independence begins at self determination and discovery. More so, self discovery is a progressive and gradual process.

  6. Ohalete Precious on

    I don’t read such long post but after the first paragraph which most words I looked up, i was cohesive to finish the writeup. Vic Vic you’re an outstanding lady and I believe and know your light is still on its sparking level. You’re light will shine all over the universe. You’re a blessing to the world.

  7. Doris Ogbonna on

    Having caught this great understanding at your young age, will no doubt take you to greater and fulfilling height in life. Peer pressure and distractions are far from you and any other young person that reads this amazing article. Greater feats loading for you girl. Thumps 👆.

  8. Guss who? on

    La treeeeeeee!!!!!! Nice one
    You are an inspiration to our generation, and a demonstration of a better nation.
    Ps:- I actually read the whole thing

  9. Chima on

    Captivating! Thought provoking! Well thought-through and expressing shocking depth coming from a youngster. The sky ain’t the limit no more. Go Victory!!

  10. Victory Yinka-Banjo on

    Thank you all so so so soooo much for your comments! It is really inspiring to know that my work touched others in various ways. Thank you. This really does mean a lot!!

  11. Mayowa on

    The author is going places with this kind of mind set at a very young age in the Nigerian society! She’d definitely improve. I hope she’s not seen as a “rebel” when she starts voicing opposing views. But even if she is perceived as one with her mindset I bet she’d be fine because she’s an independent and critical thinker who balances the different realities from both an individual and group point of views. This type of thinking is very scarce, in relation to the total population of our nation and it’s good a younger mind has already emancipated herself mentally and her colleagues have lots to learn from her. Your mind is a tool, one which sets you on the path only few are able navigate to become social/world changers. Well done!

  12. Nkechi Okechukwu on

    What an explicate exposé of an issue that may leave people’s potentials unharnessed if not nipped in the bud!
    Indeed, this is an awesome one from a teen. Keep the flag flying, Victory.

  13. Michael on

    This is phenomenal Ms. Vee.
    You assert to me I am ‘Me’😘😘😘

    ‘the glaring truth is that an individual is never really alone because that person has himself.’ This strucked me Vee. Insightful, you are.

    You’ve won the ears and hearts 💕 of us all. Continue to pour more from your unending flow of wisdom Victory, Yinka-Banjo.

  14. Ododo Elebute on

    I’m in awe of what I’ve read. Victory, you’ve brought out the truth that needs to be uncovered; so much wisdom lies in what you have written. I’m so so so proud of you, and I wish you good luck in this competition. I have so much hope;)

  15. Matthew on

    A thought provoking read. I approached this expecting you’d blow me away, and you didn’t disappoint. You are a truly gifted individual who continues to not only surprise but inspire me. Wish you all the best in your present endeavors.

  16. Patricia on

    Such a pleasant news I’ve had today and a great way to start my day.

    This is just the beginning for Victory and super well done to you Chika.

  17. Stella Ehindero on

    Wow, such a mature piece from a 14 year old. I’m a lazy reader but found it irresistible to finish this read. Well done Victory!

  18. Seun on

    Good job dear.. Keep it up.. God loves you, you are the daughter of the Champion of all champions, you shall succeed in Jesus name Amen

  19. Cornel Enebeli on

    Well done Victory! This is a brilliant piece. You have indeed exchanged time to come up with this article. Keep it up, I like the quote from Doug Cooper-“ Identity is found from within ….when one has the courage to let it go”.
    See you at the top young lady!

  20. Paula on

    To say that this is an awesome well articulated piece is an understatement! Keep it up my SPECIAL BABY! May God alone continually be glorified in your life!

    • Prince William on

      Very rich and insightful write-up. You are definitely going places Victory… your path to the top is getting clearer… you’ve got wisdom many within your age grade could only wish for. Well done for the smart works… and big kudos to your parents,I am sure you are already making them proud of you…stay on this good path and grow… the sky is only but your stepping stone…

      Well done once again…

      God’s grace in all your endeavours…my prayers for you

  21. Ekechi Nzewi on

    This is breathtaking. I’m astonished that something so profound is coming from a 14 year old. Keep up the good work ✨🔥


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